Emera deal with NDP blocked Maritime Link debate delay
The Nova Scotia government turned down intervenors who asked the Utility and Review Board be given more time to make a decision on the Maritime Link project because Emera Inc. and the province signed an agreement which said if changes were made to the regulatory process the province would pay Emera for any losses.
Emera explained the decision during its testimony at a hearing on the proposed Maritime Link this week.
Legislation passed by the NDP government gives the Utility and Review Board until July 28 to decide whether to approve the $1.5-billlion project, six months after the proposal was filed.
Nova Scotia’s consumer advocate and six intervenors had asked to delay the hearing, but the province and Emera made their agreement last December.
The clause indicates Emera is saved from any "costs, expenses, losses, damages, claims, obligations or liabilities."
"We needed it in place during the time we were seeking a credit rating between the time we made the application and before a decision with the Utility and Review Board," said Nancy Tower, CEO for Emera Newfoundland.
"The credit rating agencies needed to assume there was approval so we needed some stability around the regulatory process to allow the credit agencies to know what they were working with, if you will."
Tower said the reason Emera wanted the agreement was to ensure the Muskrat Falls project would receive a federal loan guarantee worth $100 million.
Nova Scotia Power’s parent company is a minority partner in the Muskrat Falls project and is responsible for the Maritime Link, which may see as much as 40 per cent of the electricity from the 824-megawatt project moved to Cape Breton by subsea cables.
The project could see ratepayers footing the bill for the next 35 years. Emera said the project would add $1.50 per month to the average household's power bill over the first five years.